Sunday, October 29, 2000

State senate candidates talk money

Stephenson, Roeding spar over health care funding

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT MITCHELL — Democratic state Senate candidate John Stephenson has accused his opponent — Republican incumbent Sen. Dick Roeding — of being “in the pocket” of the health care industry.

        “Sen. Roeding is not a crooked man, not a dishonest man,” said Mr. Stephenson, a Fort Mitchell Democrat running an uphill race against an entrenched incumbent in a GOP-friendly legislative district.

        “But he takes too much money from the health care industry, from doctors' PACs (Political Action Committees) in the health care industry,” Mr. Stephenson said. “How is he going to represent the people when he is in the pocket of that industry?”

        Hayes Robertson, Mr. Roeding's campaign manager, said Mr. Stephenson's accusations are preposterous, a desperate tactic by a Democrat who has no chance of winning the 11th Senate District seat that Mr. Roeding has held for a decade.

        “Dick Roeding is not in the pocket of any individual or any industry,” Mr. Robertson said Thursday, adding that Mr. Roeding — a retired pharmacist and pharmaceutical industry lobbyist from Lakeside Park — receives money from the health care industry because he understands their issues.

        “He's a pharmacist, a trained professional who understands the industry and the issues and knows how to articulate those issues to other legislators,” Mr. Roberston said. Mr. Stephenson was unable to provide any circumstances or examples of Mr. Roeding being influenced by physicians or health care industry representatives.

        But he did point to the amount of money Mr. Roeding receives from those in the health care industry. “That shows to me that they are giving him money for a reason, that they are going to want something in return in the future.”

        Mr. Roeding has raised about $100,000 for his race and still has $75,326 cash on hand, compared to less than $10,000 that Mr. Stephenson has raised.

        According to campaign finance reports filed at the Kenton County Courthouse, Mr. Roeding has received $6,300 from health-related PACS — including those funded by nursing homes, optometrists and doctors — and $3,500 from individual doctors in Northern Kentucky.

        But in the latest campaign finance report, which covered the period from Oct. 7 to Oct. 24, Mr. Roeding raised $12,750. Of his 28 donors, 11 were doctors. And of the 11 PACs that contributed money, four were health care related.

        Mr. Roeding held a Monday night fund-raiser at the home of Villa Hills physician Dr. Paul Guenthner. Mr. Robertson said 15 other doctors attended the event, which raised an estimated $5,000.

        Mr. Roeding has taken positions in Frankfort favorable to the medical industry.

        He opposed taxes on physicians and prescription drugs, and he battled the Democratic administration of former Gov. Brereton Jones when he tried to institute a universal health care system that most physicians opposed.

        Mr. Robertson said he believes Mr. Stephenson is raising the issue because he can't win a Senate district that includes all of Boone County, the largest Republican-controlled county in Kentucky.


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